ALTOONA, Pa. — Penn State Altoona has announced the student marshals for fall 2022 commencement. Student marshals are chosen to represent their academic division based on outstanding academic achievement.
At Penn State Altoona, student marshals lead graduating students from their division during the commencement procession. Penn State Altoona will hold its fall 2022 commencement ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 17.
Below are testimonials from each of the four student marshals.
James Joseph Miller
Bachelor of arts degree in English and history
Student marshal for the Division of Arts and Humanities
Miller: "When I first decided to apply to Penn State Altoona, I let doubt define me. I didn't even think I would get accepted into the college as I had barely graduated high school a number of years prior. During my first few semesters, I expressed my fears and doubts about being a non-traditional student to the professors I most trusted. They all told me the same thing — that age and past performances didn't matter.
"In my third semester, I enrolled in a foreign language class that I did not think I could pass. Upon corresponding with the professor, I was told, 'Ich sollte mit beiden Füßen hineinspringen,' or 'to jump in with both feet.' Not only did I pass, I thrived. That influential instructor became a powerful ally, and from that point forward, doubt began to loosen its steadfast hold on me.
"What an extraordinary journey it has been. A journey that would not have occurred had others not sensed something within me that I could not see myself. Their willingness to serve in capacities beyond what was required of them became crucial. Sometimes points were hammered home with brutal honesty; my mentors always telling me succinctly if I was about to screw up. As a result, I became a peer tutor in the Writing Commons, learning even more about myself while helping others in many of the same ways I was helped. It was my way of giving back, my way of saying thank you. It is the people here that matter most. My professors, and by extension, Penn State Altoona, showed me the danger of defining myself by doubts instead of possibilities."
Bachelor of science degree in accounting
Student marshal for the Division of Business, Engineering, Information Sciences and Technology
Woomer: "Having lived in Tyrone, Pennsylvania, my entire life, I decided to attend Penn State Altoona because it was a short distance from my home. However, over the past four years, Penn State has offered me so much more than just a quick commute. Throughout my time here, my professors have continually shown me that I am capable of surpassing my limits, and with hard work, I can truly succeed. With that being said, I cannot express how thankful I am to my professors, family, and friends who have supported me. I look forward to the future with confidence and the opportunities it has in store."
Bachelor of science degree in criminal justice
Student marshal for the Division of Education, Human Development and Social Sciences
Kosaka: "I am truly honored to represent the Division of Education, Human Development, and Social Sciences as the student marshal for the fall 2022 Graduation Ceremony.
"Penn State Altoona has provided me with knowledge and experiences throughout my undergraduate career. I feel privileged to be a part of such an enriching community of students, faculty and staff. I am proud to say I proved my first-year self wrong because I believe I have found my place on this campus. I appreciate all the support from the criminal justice faculty as well as the superior extra-curricular opportunities, such as the Integrated Social Science Research Lab and Residence Life. At this campus, I can see how much I have grown — personally and professionally — to become a better person.
"None of my accomplishments could have been possible without the support from my dad! He provided me with the tools to find my way."
Bachelor of science degree in biology
Student marshal for the Division of Math and Natural Sciences
Binduga: "While the rigor of my studies at Penn State Altoona has challenged my mind, and I've acquired the requisite textbook knowledge of my major, many of life's most valuable lessons are not learned via lectures but instead are obtained outside of the classroom. One of the lessons I've learned is to follow my intuition; to paraphrase Steve Jobs, I've learned to follow my heart even if it leads me off the well-worn path. While I initially enrolled at Penn State as a 2+2 student — two years at Penn State Altoona, followed by two years at University Park — the pull to remain at Altoona was undeniable. So, I chose to make my own path and finish my degree at Penn State Altoona.
"Though shifting my academic plan midway was challenging, it helped me learn to embrace change, adapt, and prioritize. The decision to follow my heart was the best decision I could have made. Not only did the smaller campus provide unique opportunities to excel, but I was also able to maintain relationships and build upon my first two years here.
"I am truly honored to be named student marshal for the Division of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. I would like to thank Penn State Altoona's faculty, staff and students for the lessons I've learned — academic and otherwise — which I will take with me (along with Penn State Pride!) throughout my life and career."